“Detours, challenges, and crisis are simply covers for miracles that had no other way of reaching you.” Unknown.
Recently, I’ve been going through my own challenging time. Walking through my own ‘valley of the shadow of death’, I’ve realized that what is ‘dying’ and what is waiting to be ‘born’ is often hard to discern in the middle of the darkness.
I’ve learned over the years that, indeed its true, ‘the wound is where the light comes in’, so in the midst of the pain, I told myself to just keep breathing, and went to find some help.
The person I began working with didn’t know what I did for a living, or about all my years of ‘self-help’ reading and ‘recovery’, and what I uncovered in that space of anonymity was how beautifully safe it felt for me to be broken.
Without worrying that she had preconceived notions about what I should and shouldn’t know, I just felt this huge sense of relief and freedom in not needing to have all the answers.
I didn’t have to be emotionally intelligent, insightful, or even self-aware. I could just not know. I could just be lost. I could just be exactly as I was – confused, unsure, not knowing the way forward.
It dawned on me how being immersed in this sea of self-help and personal growth development for so many years was, at least in this particular scenario, hindering my own ability to connect to my own state of uncertainty and feelings of complete brokenness.
I found myself thinking, “weren’t you supposed to have overcome all of this by now”?
And with that one single, seemingly simple thought, I was reacquainted with my old friend, Shame.
Should is the reigning queen of Shame, and each time we tell ourselves that we ‘should’ know this, or ‘shouldn’t’ be experiencing what we are, it blinds us from seeing our truth.
We hold this belief that, having come so far and learned so much, we have no reason to ever again be in a place of ‘not knowing’. We tell our selves the story that by now, “we should know”.
In my own marriage, my shame about being in such a dysfunctional and unhappy relationship kept me unable to acknowledge it.
“I should be happy”, “I shouldn’t complain”, “I shouldn’t have done that”, “I should be better partner”, etc.
Coupled with my fear about what I’d have to do if I did acknowledge it, and even worse, what I thought it said about me and who I was, kept me silenced and avoiding that very truth.
As I’ve been working though this latest life challenge, I have to admit, I was surprised to find that my old familiar pattern of wanting to avoid the truth had re-surfaced.
I really thought I had pretty much dealt with it and had laid it to rest, and yet here I was bumping up against it over and over again in each and every session.
My big ol’ stumbling block, it turns out, was my unwillingness to be vulnerable without apology. Take note that the ‘apology’ is the beautiful big bow we want to wrap the problem up in – it qualifies my current state.
It’s the “I’m sorry, I know I’m having a bit of a struggle, BUT don’t worry, I’m really not a screw up…I’ve got this” kind of qualifier.
But here’s the thing – declaring that we’re ‘okay’ when we’re not, keeps us having to pretend that we’re okay, which means we’re completely disconnected from our truth in that moment.
Our fear of being vulnerable – of being seen as ‘less than’, ‘not enough’, ‘not capable’, ‘ not having it all together’, keeps us trapped in our current state of ‘brokenness’.
It keeps us disconnected from our highest self and our inner wisdom. It keeps our walls high, our guards up, keeps us hiding and isolated.
Allowing vulnerability in actually empowers us. It’s our lifeline. It’s the connection cord. It connects us to our own truth and to others.
Without vulnerability I’m unable to acknowledge what’s actually going on with me. Instead, I’m sweeping the million little pieces that is my shattered heart under the rug so that no one sees, and no one judges.
So how do we find our way out? By going in and embracing exactly where we are. We must allow ourselves the right to just not know the answers – to not know how to get through it and move forward.
We must be completely and utterly willing to be vulnerable.
It is this vulnerable place of ‘not knowing’ that is our holy ground. It is where the light comes in. It is where we meet ourselves. It is where we discover that we are enough, just as we are – no matter what.
And we learn it’s okay not to be okay.
The struggle is our rite of passage – it’s the birthplace of courage and wisdom. We build bravery by doing the difficult thing.
When we’re willing to tell ourselves the truth about where we’re at, then we can grow. Most importantly we discover that when we are lost, we can be found.
So if you’re experiencing a difficult time in your life like me, allow yourself to simply not have all the answers, to embrace what it is you ‘don’t know’ in this particular circumstance.
Take all walls down. Take all guards down. Come out of hiding, and with all the courage and self-compassion you can possibly muster, look clearly at where the wound is.
I promise you, the light will stream in, showing you where the roots of old patterns still run deep. And in absolute perfect timing, it will reveal exactly what it is you need to know in this moment for you to begin to heal, grow and expand.